How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office

Orange, the fifth most populous county in Florida, includes the city of Orlando, a prime tourist destination. The crime rate in Orlando (507.6) is quite high compared to the national average of 301, although it has decreased considerably since 2000 when it was 861.4. However, the 2012 murder rate of 24 per 100,000 people is up from 21 in 2000, keeping the Orange County Sheriff’s Office very busy.

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Becoming a Detective with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office

Deputies and detectives with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office are responsible for enforcing the law across a jurisdiction that is 1,004 square miles in size. The Operational Service’s Bureau of the sheriff’s office is divided into three divisions: patrol, criminal investigations and special operations.

The highly qualified detectives of the Criminal Investigation Division, most of whom began their careers as uniformed patrol deputies, handle major crimes that require in-depth investigations.

The annual starting salary for Orange County deputy sheriffs is $39,520 and $40,726 with three years experience.

Education and Experience Requirements – Candidates must have a high school diploma plus one of the following:

  • Two years (60 credit hours) or more education at an accredited college or university OR
  • Two years active military service OR
  • Four years continuous reserve guard duty OR
  • Two years law enforcement or related experience

The ideal candidate will have a good combination of education, work and military experience.

Satisfying the Basic Requirements – Other minimum qualifications are:

  • U.S. citizen over the age of 20
  • Valid driver’s license and good driving record
  • No substance abuse problems / no DUIs in last five years
  • Good credit rating
  • No felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions involving moral character, false statements or domestic violence
  • No dishonorable discharge
  • No illegal drug use in past three years
  • Excellent physical condition with 20/40 vision
  • Pass BAT test

The standard BAT (Basic Abilities Test) is offered at any law enforcement academy in Florida. See the Florida law enforcement website for details.

Hiring Process – Steps in the hiring process are as follows:

  • Complete and submit online application
  • Pass physical abilities test
  • Pass written skills test
  • Pass voice stress analysis for truth verification
  • Panel interview
  • Ride-along with a deputy sheriff (not all applicants)
  • Pass swimming test
  • Background investigation
  • Pass more stringent physical fitness test
  • Medical exam with drug screening
  • Psychological evaluation

Training – All new recruits attend training at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Training Center located in the sheriff’s central complex in Orlando. The center is in compliance with Florida law enforcement certification. Behind-the-wheel vehicle operation training is held at one of three training stations outside of Orlando. Training includes physical fitness, firearms use, self-defense and classroom studies. The length and intensity of training for new hires depends upon their past experience.

In addition, all sworn personnel receive 24 hours a year of in-service continuing education that focuses on current trends and procedures.

Units in the Orlando County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division

The Criminal Investigations Division of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office includes the following units:

  • Homicide Squad – Investigates murders, suicides and suspicious deaths. The squad boasts a 77.5 percent clearance rate, well above the national average.
  • Persons Squad – Investigates serious crimes again persons which do not result in death as well as bomb and shooting incidents.
  • Sexual Offender Surveillance (SOS) – Monitors the 1,989 sex offenders and predators living in Orange County as well as Internet crimes against children and child abductions.
  • Domestic Violence – Investigates spousal and child abuse and missing persons
  • Sex Crimes Squad Focuses on rape and other crimes with sexual overtones.
  • Evidence Unit – Collects and preserves crime scene evidence.
  • Digital Forensics Unit – Certified computer forensics specialists forensically analyze all computers, cell phone, tablets, etc.
  • Forensics Squad – The real Florida CSIs) investigated and analyzed 1,680 crime scenes in 2012.

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